Mundia Peter / Kenya
“My name is Mundia Peter and I live in Kenya. I identify as gender non-conforming and queer. I was a victim once before to bullying, stress and depression. However, now I am in a phase where I am not a victim and I am thriving in a society where our love is illegal and learning acceptance. Sometimes, as queer people, we end up being stuck in victimhood, being subjected to hate as we are growing up and then we continue carrying that pain our minds, replaying it over and over again in the present. It ends up effecting our creativity and expression. Accepting myself has allowed me to free myself from that pain. Before I held on to the trauma and it effected my physical and mental health.
I have had people make comments about my behaviour and mannerisms. When I was kid, sometimes I would dance in a flamboyant way. My aunts thought I was being girly and they asked me what I was doing. As a teenager, I would walk outside in skinny jeans and people on the street would shout and me and say that I was dressing in girl’s clothes and that I was a boy, not a girl. My dad, when he was drunk, he would come to me in the night, and complain to me that a man should act a certain way in society and that I should stop dressing like a girl and this would affect me emotionally.
One time, my extended family staged an intervention to change me and I did not stay. I stormed out of the house.
During COVID, I started a journey of self-love. At the beginning of 2020, I had a breakdown where I just cried and cried and could not stop. I had to go back to my home town where there are lot of hills. I would go outside in nature to get away from my family and the anxiety I felt walking around the streets of my town. I started doing Yoga in the hills, sometimes for three hours and it would centre me. This process changed my thinking. I started realizing that my trauma was in the past and that the only time I had was now, being the in the present moment of positivity and self-love. I realized I had to let go of my past. I realized that being me was a gift. Slowly, I started to conceptualize we are all divine beings and that the divine is within all of us. I came to believe that the divine has no gender, it is neither male or female, it just is. If I am a part of the divine, then why should I limit myself to an expression of only the male gender. I feel safe in my own femininity.
Since then, I have been expressing myself more creatively on Instagram. Before, I would take self-portraits with sets and clothes that showed my feminine side but I would not post them because of trauma from my past and being afraid of getting judged. However, at some point I just said “fuck it” and now I feel safe showing images of all aspects of myself, whether it be feminine and masculine. I have created a safe space for the expression of myself on my Instagram profile.
Modelling has helped me to understand that I have judged my own body for not conforming to the ideals of what a male physique should look like. Now, I am trying to create a space to thrive as who I am in the Kenyan fashion industry. I am more than the typical male model with a six pack. I am who I am and I want to express all that I am.
My hope for the LGBTQ community is that we learn to accept and love ourselves, even before we try to get it from the rest of society. We need to create a safe space mentally, spiritually and physically for ourselves to thrive. We need to not internalize the oppression from the outside society. Once we get to a point where we accept ourselves fully in the present moment and let go of the past, discrimination from the society cannot affect us. We will be able to walk outside with the confidence of love. Loving yourself allows you to stand with your head held high and nothing will be able to touch you.”